The strike in the beginning of February at the Norwegian salmon-processing plant in Chile gave the employees even lower wages than previously. “The wage situation was not even discussed”, the union representative in Mainstream told Norwatch.
Cermaq’s subsidiary Mainstream Chile has been fined for overproduction at two of the company’s plants in Chile. “Cermaq has become a big exporter of problems. The fine is unfortunately only a drop in the ocean for a company with such large profits,” Don Staniford of Pure Salmon Group told Norwatch.
A Norwegian-owned fish-farming company is accused of taking advantage of South African fishermen. “We were used as an alibi to obtain local anchorage when the Norwegians applied for a farming licence”, the fishing company Rowmoor told Norwatch.
CHILE (NorWatch): The labour inspector who claimed that the Norwegian owned sea farming company Mainstream under-pay its workers have been muzzled. At the same time, his boss refuses to confirm that he has handed Mainstream a disavowal.
CHILE (NorWatch): EWOS in Coronel is the worlds largest fish feed factory. At this site alone, meal and oil from 620.000 tons of fish suitable for human consumption become 360.000 tons of fish feed every year - nearly without labour. NorWatch has visited the factory.
In October the organization Ecoceanos was on a quick visit to Norway. Chileans told the tale about terrible environment and working conditions at the Norwegian owned fish-farming facilities in their home country.
Frionor Thailand has received support from NORAD several times; most recently in 1996, when the company was granted a loan of USD 2 million. The money was used to build a new factory, following the Thai authorities' demand that the old, run-down factory in Bangkok be abandoned. One of the NORAD justifications for the loan, was that the factory provided employment for women. The loan is to be paid off in 10 years, at a 1.5 per cent interest rate.
Of the roughly 300 employees at Frionor Thailand, about half receive the country's minimum wage of 162 baht (less than USD 5) per day. Since September 1997, they have had no raise in their wages, whereas the same period has seen inflation of about 15% due to the Asian financial crisis. There is no trade union for the employees.
90% of the longlines used for the Lofoten fisheries in Northern Norway, are produced by A.J. Fishing Industries Ltd in the Katunayake export processing zone. At this factory, NorWatch is politely, but firmly, denied taking any pictures, and is also prevented from looking more closely into the working conditions at the factory. Managing director, Terje Sandvik, says the company pays high wages, and in other respects comply with the regulations as laid down by the Board of Investment. Trade unions are prohibited at this Norwegian fishing equipment supplier. Sandvik insists that BOI is responsible for the ban on trade unions, and not the company he is running.
The prawn farms, already the source of great destruction to the mangrove forests in Thailand, are now spreading towards the interior of the country. By pouring salt water into the rice fields to breed prawns there, fortune hunters may earn big money for a few years until the fields are left vacant, unsuitable both for prawn farming and rice growing. Prawn farming in the interior is prohibited by law, but the Frionor factory in Thailand, owned by the Norwegian financier Kjell Inge Røkke, buys large quantities of prawn with no regard to how they are raised. As a result of criticism in Sweden, Frionor has stopped selling the prawns to grocery shops, but they still sell them to Norwegian restaurants and to markets in other countries.